Inspiration

We were looking at ads through an old magazine that we picked up at the Cupertino City Library. There were several pages dedicated just to ads about college counseling services, ans we noticed many trends: these services prided themselveson costing "just three thousand dollars", offered "unparalleled advice", and was run by professionals. We decided to put that to the test by automating the entire college counseling process and removing the need for unnecessarily costly sessions.

What it does

Our web application initally gathers personal, acadmeic, and extracurricular information from the student, including the college the student aims to attend. We then use a college database we compiled to compare their statistics to that of the school. Using numerical values generated as a function of the user input, we suggest other colleges the applicant might be interested in attending. We then formulate a timeline that we suggest the student follow in order to become a competitive applicant for their desired colleges.

How I built it

College Database - We created a JavaScript spider which accessed every single college listed on USNews and World Report's College Databases. JavaScript spider gathers key information stored into a separate text file stored online for our project. All our information was then stored onto a BlueMix Cloudant NoSQL database for future access. BlueMix's huge storage allowed for large amounts of data and quick access.

Algorithm - We used algorithms that used user input to give a standard numerical value from 1 - 100 on three categories: extracurriculars, academics, and testing. Since colleges had different criteria for admittance, we knew it was important to create a universal scale in which all colleges are rated. For extracurricular score, for example, key words and phrases were used to create logarithmic growth functions that increased slower as they grew.

Web Application - By using a combination of intelligent algortihms, college databases and an intuitive UIUX, we were able to create a useful and good-looking application that planned out the future a high school student should strive for in order to achieve competence in their respective college applications.

Challenges I ran into

Because college decisions seem to take into account many aspects of a student's life, we had to boil the multiple factors down into what would be most important for a college. We had to weight scores differently based on the college's consideration of various factors like different weighting about grades, extracurriculars, and testing. Agreeing on a weighting system for extracurriculars, academics, and testing was the hardest, and we discussed the topic for over half an hour.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

We messaged our friends late at night to ask them what they felt was the most important part of college applications, and we learned a lot about what makes our classmates unique, whether it's from what their future dream college is to what they feel should be most important when considering an applicant. I'm happy I reached out of my comfort zone and gained many new perspectives I wouldn't have otherwise. I was also able to create algorithms that made sense while still being detailed enough to accurately rate student's abilities and potentials.

What I learned

We learned the importance of teamwork. Algorithm-writing and advice-planning would do no good without someone to code segments of it, and no one would look at a website that didn't look awesome. We all helped each other create an amazing product that can give those who can't afford it advice to achieve their dream.

What's next for Schola

With some more, updates, we hope to release it to the public! After updating to give it more accurate predictions, Schola will be good to go and bring advice to hose who need it but can't afford it.

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